News Articles

FROM THE STATES: Ga., Texas, Calif. evangelism/missions news; ‘… We pray knowing that the Gospel will change hearts’

Today’s From the States features items from:
The Christian Index (Georgia)
Southern Baptist TEXAN
California Southern Baptist


Ga. campers learn of life,
lostness in Mozambique
By Joe Westbury

CLAYTON, Ga. (The Christian Index) — On a hot July afternoon, Riley Coulter of Dahlonega drew water from a north Georgia lake and placed it in a plastic container to learn how her counterparts in Mozambique secured the day’s drinking water.

Ella Ulrich of Rutledge and other girls used straw brooms to sweep the dust out of a hut, which recreated a daily chore endured by her peers in the coastal South African nation.

And Emily Sims of Dalton learned how to twist a colorful cloth around her body and gently place a teddy bear, simulating an infant, into a comfortable nook and walking around as she performed household chores.

Each week this summer young girls and teens from across Georgia explored such everyday experiences that many said led them not to take for granted their comfortable lifestyle. And several joked that enjoying air conditioning was the first luxury to cherish.

The experience of living in Mozambique and learning about its culture and hardships — if actually only a make-believe village tucked into the woods of Camp Pinnacle — gave the girls a close-up encounter many say they will never forget.

Praying for the unchurched in the faraway nation, where fellow Georgia Baptists Chris and Katie Nalls have been serving for nine years, was at the top of the week’s culture camp activities.

Each day after breakfast the campers Skyped the couple and asked questions in real time across six time zones. The interaction added a flesh-and-blood dimension to the weeks and removed it from an impersonal study.

Chris, who grew up in First Baptist Church of Tifton, and Katie, from Tabernacle Baptist Church in Carrollton, first met as International Mission Board journeymen in the nation. They eventually married and returned to the field and now have three children -– Abigail, Emma Claire, and Daniel.

The couple looked forward to the daily video call and expressed thanks for being included in the summer programming. By the end of the summer the girls had given nearly $4,000 to be used by the Nalls among the Nyungwe people of Tete.

“We know that God can use a weeklong focus on our nation in the lives of some of these girls that will have an eternal impact –- not only in their lives, but in the lives of other people in Mozambique,” Katie said in an email interview.

“Some of them may continue to pray for the Nyungwe people with whom we work in Tete. God may call some of them to come and work here in the future. Hopefully, they will all understand God’s calling for believers to go and make disciples at home and abroad.”

The Georgians, who served as guest missionaries at the camp in 2012, added that they have high expectations for the girls praying for them, not just this summer but throughout the coming year.

“We expect God to be faithful to His Word. We believe that He is the One who has the power to transform hearts and lives here in Mozambique. We know that we are incapable to doing anything without the power of the Holy Spirit working in us so we pray and ask God to fill us and other believers here.

“We believe that the Gospel is the power of God for salvation to anyone who believes, so we pray knowing that the Gospel will change hearts. We are thankful for the hundreds of girls who prayed not only for us, but for the hearts of Mozambican people to be changed. We know God will be faithful and work through their prayers.”
This article appeared in The Christian Index (christianindex.org), newsjournal of the Georgia Baptist Convention. Joe Westbury is managing editor of The Christian Index.


Hands-on metal work teaches
Texas boys spiritual lessons

By Keith Collier

NEWTON, Texas (The TEXAN) — Deep in the East Texas Pineywoods, more than 200 elementary-age boys worked with their hands and were “forged” into followers of Christ during the third annual East Texas Baptist Encampment (ETBE) Boys Camp, June 7-10. Keeping with this year’s theme, “Iron Sharpens Iron,” 1st-6th grade boys learned skills of the trade from master blacksmiths, certified welders, and professional knife makers as they hammered out a sword on an anvil, welded pieces of metal, and fashioned their own knives.

“We have a master blacksmith that is teaching them how when iron is heated, it can be shaped and sharpened, which goes along with our theme,” Jason Glenn, pastor of Call Junction Baptist Church in Kirbyville and director of the four-day camp, told the TEXAN.

“And God molds us that way. He molds us by all kinds of fires that we go through, and we’re tried by fire. It gives (boys) an opportunity to use a hammer and an opportunity to do something cool. They’re going to fool with fire, and they can see how things are shaped. And, hopefully, we can teach them that they’re going to be shaped in the same way.”

Glenn, a former farrier and electrician, said God laid on his heart several years ago a desire to teach boys spiritual principles through hands-on activities. The first ETBE boys camp focused on Jesus as fully God and fully man, while boys learned about Jesus’ life as a carpenter. Last year’s theme was “Fishers of Men,” where boys learned to make lures and competed in a fishing tournament in addition to being challenged to be disciples and make disciples as they share their faith.

“I wanted a time where we could spend with just boys and men and not be in a co-ed situation — not that it’s wrong, but I just wanted to be able to talk to the boys without the things of the world on their minds,” Glenn said.

“Boys have an attitude … and men do too … where we don’t want to learn from each other. We try to do it independently; we don’t learn from the experiences of others. And this being a mentor-type camp, they’re going to have to work shoulder-to-shoulder with these men and learn their experiences.”

Glenn said the camp gives boys a chance to unplug from technology and other distractions, opening the door for meaningful conversations about Christ.

“We want to do our part so we don’t lose this generation,” Glenn said. “We’re wanting them to be men, and God wants us to raise men. In our world today, the line is all mixed up on what makes a man a man. … We’ve seen kids get exited about experiencing things that some of us grew up doing, but they never get a chance to do it.”

When ETBE Executive Director Andy Narramore came on to manage the encampment in 2011, he recognized that their girls camp was thriving but their boys camp had died four years earlier. As he began to pray and share his vision to revive the boys camp with area churches, Glenn came along and said he would direct the camp. The numbers have grown each year, and boys are accepting Christ and growing in their relationship with God.

“The neat thing about it is that the men are here — all ages, from young daddies to high school and college kids that want to be good role models to grandfathers — doing men’s stuff, and the boys love it,” Narramore said.

This influence of men in the lives of boys is a primary emphasis at the camp, so much so that they intentionally schedule it for four days beginning on the weekend so men only have to take a couple of days off work.

“We want (the men) to be involved, to get in there with those kids,” Glenn said. “It’s not a vacation time; we want you with them, teaching them all the time.”

The added benefit comes as these relationships between men and boys continue in churches throughout the year. Glenn and others are currently writing a discipleship curriculum called Apprenticeship of the Master to aid churches in this process.

“Years ago, let’s say a master wagon-maker, would take a young boy on and teach him how to build wagons. And then when that master would get old and could no longer handle it, the young boy would take over and take care of that older man. In the same way, we as children of God need to do that. That will bridge the gap between (generations) in the church. With these older folks investing in these kids and the kids seeing ‘that old man is cool, we can hang out with him,’ then we can bridge those gaps, and that’s what we’re working toward.”

Throughout the week, boys hammered on a sword that the blacksmith fashioned into a show sword to mount on a wall at the camp. They also learned about welding techniques and safety, which led to discussions about the unbreakable bond Christians have with one another in Christ. A knife maker from Henry Brothers Knife Company in Kirbyville continued the week’s theme, explaining how to make a knife and the proper way to sharpen it.

“We’re about trying to transfer the faith any way we can,” Glenn said.

Next year’s theme will involve leatherworking, and boys will be taught that as Christians, they are marked by God and must represent him well in the world.

“We form relationships, and what bonds us together is Christ, and if our relationship is based on Christ, nothing will be able to break it — we’ll be able to forgive one another, love one another, and we don’t even have to have the same ideas or the same likes and dislikes, but because of Christ, when we’re bonded together, we can learn from one another, so iron sharpens iron and we can change the countenance of our friends.”
This article appeared in the Southern Baptist TEXAN (texanonline.net), newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. Keith Collier is editor of the Southern Baptist TEXAN.


Calif. women
serve through sewing

By Janet Massingill/Special to the CSB)

FAIR OAKS, Calif. (California Southern Baptist) — First Baptist Church in Fair Oaks is on a journey of developing followers of Jesus Christ from every generation, on mission, for the good of the world.

Retired Senior Pastor JT Reed has said of the church, “We are to be in the world, not of the world, for the good of the world.” First Baptist’s journey is a story of how the Holy Spirit is using prayer, pillowcase dresses and sustainable hygiene kits to share the gospel locally and around the world.

Some five years ago, the Lord impressed upon the hearts of First Baptist’s women’s leaders the idea of spreading the gospel through the “Dress a Girl Around the World” ministry, which encourages churches and other community groups to fashion dresses out of pillowcases for young girls in oppressed areas of the world. These dresses bring hope for girls who are often dressed in rags.

The purpose of making the dresses and sending them with missionaries and mission teams is two-fold. First, it provides missionaries an entry point to interact with specific people groups by meeting the physical need of clothing for young girls.

Second, the Holy Spirit provides opportunities for the missionaries distributing the dresses to talk with people about their spiritual need for Jesus Christ.

Although the Dress a Girl ministry is consistent with the church’s mission statement, it struggled during its early years.

In the beginning, a few women did all the work of cutting, sewing and decorating the dresses. They located missionaries or mission teams, arranged shipment and/or pickup of dresses, made financial sacrifices, and spent much time away from their own families. The work was taking its toll and the vision of joining God in His mission was becoming blurred. This frustration led to the next step in the journey.

God was reminding the women that His mission is just that … His! He is the One who draws people to salvation through faith. He is the One who places within believers the desire to meet the needs of others. He is the One who provides opportunities and prepares the people (both those serving and those being served) for His glory.

In the summer of 2014, God led women at the church to pray about what He would have them do to further His Kingdom. At the time, focus for the Dress a Girl ministry was on impoverished girls in third-world countries. God, however, was about to reveal His bigger picture. Dress a Girl was joined with “Days For Girls,” as the women from First Baptist learned of the need for sustainable hygiene kits.

Sonia Burnell, a missionary with International Commission, introduced the group to the need, and Alene Sayles-Jones and Carole Hanna (co-leaders of First Baptist’s ministry) decided to add it to ongoing efforts.
God is now using the combination of Dress a Girl Around the World and Days For Girls to springboard His work.

Within the church

God is using children in grades 1-6 to make bracelets to put in the pocket of each dress. Burnell said many girls in Africa have never had clothing with pockets. She tells of the children’s smiles when they reach into their pockets for the first time. As American children learn about ways they can help and encourage other children, they are given opportunity to participate in a tangible way.

Both the younger girls (from age 8) and the older women (some 80 and older) serve together and cut, pin, iron, sew and assemble dresses and hygiene kits. Sayles-Jones said there is a task for everyone, regardless of ability or skill-level.

God is using Dress a Girl and Days For Girls to bring multiple generations together in a single ministry effort. As fellowship takes place during group events, friendships are formed and testimonies are shared.

Within the community

God continues to bring individuals and community groups to First Baptist through registration with both organizations. When people from the greater Sacramento area contact Dress a Girl and Days For Girls, they are immediately connected with First Baptist as a local source of information.

God is drawing women from Christian churches, secular community organizations and individuals who simply enjoy sewing. Many work on dresses or kits in their homes and bring their completed projects to the church for distribution through missionary contacts. Others donate fabric, trim, thread and even a few sewing machines.

Anyone is welcome to group sewing events, where the women work on projects, share about themselves, provide helpful hints on sewing, enjoy fellowship, and of course, refreshments. The high point of each group event is testimonies of lives being changed because of the delivery of dresses and hygiene kits to those in need.

Within the state

God is opening doors of opportunity to meet women outside the community. One woman, from an El Dorado Hills Latter-Day Saints ward, came to a group sewing event. She said she felt so welcomed and included that she invited the Baptists to a sewing event at her church. About a month later, three of the First Baptist group traveled to El Dorado Hills for an evening of working with more than 30 teen girls and their mothers.

The El Dorado Hills group had an opportunity to talk with Sonia Burnell, and were excited that their hygiene kits were going with her team to Kenya and Uganda. Other LDS wards in central and northern California have now contacted First Baptist about the ministry.

Within the nation

God has opened the women’s eyes to the vision of reaching others through inspiring testimonies from mission team members themselves. They have taken their experiences back to their “circle of influences,” and the Holy Spirit has used the teams’ excitement to encourage others to be part of His mission. Testimonies also have been published in Woman’s Missionary Union Missions Mosaic magazine. Because of these, churches across the country are seeking dresses and hygiene kits for their mission trips.

Around the world

God is providing opportunities to reach the world. First Baptist has sent more than 500 dresses to Brazil, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Ivory Coast, Uganda, Haiti, El Salvador and Gabon. Another 300-plus dresses are ready for a Kenya/Uganda trip in August. Personal hygiene kits also are being sent out.

More importantly, the Lord is changing lives and saving souls through presentations of the gospel by mission teams: with the delivery of the first 50 dresses to Zimbabwe, volunteers reported 7,466 decisions for Christ.

Most recently, 200 dresses sent to Gabon were used by God to draw 2,014 people to Christ. These numbers represent only the known salvation decisions.

Ultimate success, however, is not based on numbers but on each individual’s obedience to the Lord in sharing the gospel. All believers have a part in God’s church and in God’s ministry.

As JT Reed has counseled, not all are called to be pastors or teachers or evangelists. All, however, are called to use the spiritual gifts and talents the Lord has given. God has created each one with a unique set of attributes that include personality, temperament, skill-sets and interests.

For more information about Dress a Girl Around the World visit www.dressagirlaroundtheworld.com. For Days for Girls seewww.daysforgirls.org.
This article appeared in the California Southern Baptist (csbc.com/csb), newsjournal of the California Southern Baptist Convention.


EDITOR’S NOTE: From the States, published each Tuesday by Baptist Press, relays news and feature stories from state Baptist papers and other publications on initiatives by Baptist churches, associations and state conventions in evangelism, church planting and Great Commission outreach, including partnership missions. Reports about churches, associations and state conventions responding to the International Mission Board’s call to embrace the world’s 3,800 unengaged, unreached people groups also are included in From the States, along with reports about church, associational and state convention initiatives in conjunction with the North American Mission Board’s call to Southern Baptist churches to broaden their efforts in starting new churches and satellite campuses. The items appear in Baptist Press as originally published.

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